Research data, teaching materials, lecture notes may all be works which attract copyright protection.
A work is entitled to copyright protection if:
- It is of a type protected by copyright under the Act
- It is recorded in some form – eg in writing, by a sound recording, on a computer disk, or in a printed form
- The work meets the requisite degree of originality. A work is original if adequate skill, labour and judgment is expended on creating it.
What this means is that if an individual writes down an original piece of work, for example, this work is protected by copyright law.
The types of copyright works are broadly categorised into:
- Original literary, dramatic, artistic or musical works
- Sound recordings, films or broadcasts
- The typographical arrangement of published editions.
Literary work also includes:
- A table or compilation other than a database
- A computer program
- Preparatory design material for a computer program
- A database.
Dramatic work includes a work of dance or mime. Musical work means any work consisting of music. However the words accompanying the music have separate copyright (the lyrics of a song are protected as a literary work), there is also a separate right in the performance of the song, and also in any recording that might be made. Audio-visual works may therefore contain many layers of rights (potentially shared between a number of rightsholders).
Most work that is created in colleges and universities, including teaching and learning materials, will be protected by copyright law. So, for example, where a lecturer creates an online learning module including materials in various formats that they have authored themselves, the works in the module will be protected by copyright law.
Where third party materials are included in the module permission from the rightsholders to make use of them in this way is necessary, unless use can be made of a statutory exception. Using education exceptions and sector specific licenses are the usual ways that third party materials are copied and used in the education context.